Divided into three sections, this text examines early African technologies and their impact, challenging old presumptions of backwardness. In the first segment Farrar (City College of San Francisco) critiques the ideology of several scholars, including Eric Jones, John Morgan, and Jack Goody, emphasizing the evolution of race theory and its influence on subsequent researchers. His excursion into classical Greece and Rome further illuminates this discourse. Farrar leaves no stone unturned in providing an insightful analysis of the ideology emanating from the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, referencing scholars such as David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Georg Hegel, whom he identifies as “fundamental to the origins and unfolding of modern race theory.” The author’s difficult journey across the intellectual horizon of bigotry, arrogance, and supremacist ideology culminates in challenges from Edward Blyden, Melville Herskovits, William Hansberry, and Carter Woodson. This sets the stage for the rest of the text, an in-depth historiographical and evidence-based discussion of African technological accomplishments in agriculture, metallurgy, textiles, and building technology. . . this scholarly text provides a welcome corrective lens to view Africa’s material culture. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.
Classified as a work of history on the topic of African technology and material culture, this book is the product of a much larger and far more complex interdisciplinary study.... I recommend this unusual, inviting, and generously researched book as a humanistic study of technology and a vivid introduction to skilled artisans in precolonial African history.